BookCon + BookExpo Survival Guide

It’s officially con season! The best part of the year!!

This year will be my third or fourth Bookcon (I honestly don’t know), and my second BookExpo, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned over the years. This will be split into three parts (BookCon, BookExpo, and tips for both) because while they are similar, there are definitely some things that only apply to one specific event and not the other.

Whether this year is your first or your fifth, I’m hoping you’ll learn something here you didn’t know before!

Alright, let’s get started!

The Basics for Both

1. Dress with layers!

NYC can be a little unpredictable when it comes to the weather. Especially this time of year. The Javits center can run a little cold, but when you’re waiting in a crowded line, it might get too hot. The best way to deal with this is to have plenty of layers. A cozy sweatshirt or jacket, plus a tshirt and jeans are a pretty safe bet for BookCon (Note: BookExpo is a little more business casual, so make sure you think of that when planning outfits).

2. Have comfortable shoes

This is a pretty common rule for any convention. You will be standing and walking A LOT. Panels may give your feet a break, but trust me when I say it’s not enough. I know sneakers may ruin that perfect outfit you planned- but you’ll be greatful later. If you really really need those heels, then make sure you carry a pair of flats in your bag so you can change during the day.

3. Bring your own snacks

Convention food is always overpriced. You don’t want to spend money on food that you could be spending on books! Bring stuff to munch on from home. Granola bars and chips are always a safe bet, and don’t forget to bring water!

4. Bring a rolling suitcase!

Both BookCon and BookExpo let you bring a rolling suitcase that you can put in the bag check (last year, this cost about $4). I didn’t know about this my first year, and I was breaking my back with all of the stuff I got. If you check a bag, you can access it during the day and periodically empty out your backpack before heading back to get more stuff!

5. Pack a portable charger

The Javits Center technically has a couple of charging stations, but I can promise you that they’ll never be free when you need them. The best way to avoid this is to just pack your own portable charger.

I tried really hard not to fangirl when I met Leigh Bardugo last year. I failed.

The Guide to BookExpo

BookExpo is the more professional event, for those involved in the publishing industry, whereas BookCon is for the fans. BookExpo is definitely the calmer experience. Here are a few tips to utilize this event.

1. Carry business cards

You will be meeting a lot of great people at BookExpo- it truly is a wonderful networking opportunity. Because of this, it’s great to have business cards on hand. I also recommend leaving space on your business card for people to write on, without covering any important information.

2. Dress to Impress

This one is totally up to you, seriously, I’m not one to say don’t do anything. However, in my experience, while you might be able to get away with a nerdy tshirt and shorts, you’ll get more opportunities if you dress a little more professional. You don’t need to wear a fancy dress or anything- but avoid hoodies and ripped clothes, and instead wear nicer jeans and tops (and cardigans. BookExpo is full of cardigans).

3. Don’t Overplan

While this can apply to both events, I really want to emphasize it for BookExpo. You never know who you might meet and who might want to meet with you, so add some padding between events so that you can accommodate all of those spontaneous changes. Plus, it’s important to give yourself time to breathe!

Me, and my service dog in training, Laia, meeting Laini Taylor at BookExpo last year.

Surviving BookCon

“Surviving” is the key word here. BookCon is a little more… uh, chaotic, than BookExpo. According to ReedPop, 7,425 people went to BookExpo last year, while over 20,000 went to BookCon. BookCon is more crowded, and more crazy. However, it’s still be really fun as long as you know how to survive it!

1. Don’t arrive too early

I’ve already seen people saying they plan on arriving at 5 in the morning, and some people saying even earlier. Please don’t do this. For your own sake. The show floor doesn’t open until 10. You won’t miss anything by showing up after the sun has risen, I promise you. By being that early, you’re just going to wear yourself out before the convention even starts. I suggest getting there around 8-8:30am at the earliest. I always aim to be there between 8 and 9, and I’ve never missed anything important.

2. Some ARC drops aren’t worth it

I know that book is one of your most anticipated releases, but it’s not worth risking injury or mental health for. A lot of ARC drops get insane. The stress is not worth getting a book that will be released to everyone in just a few months. I especially advise avoiding some specific booths *cough* pengiun *cough* because they have a history of getting out of hand. This doesn’t mean never go to any major ARC drop or avoid certain booths completely! Just don’t get your hopes up, and check out the booth in advance and see how bad the crowd is before committing.

3. Make friends!

I’ve once waited almost 4 hours on line for something, but those hours flew by because I made friends with those on line next to me! I’ve met some amazing people at BookCon and BookExpo, it’s one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Everyone is just as much of a booknerd as you, so you already have something in common to talk about!

4. Be Prepared

There’s a lot of things happening at BookCon. I recommend creating a schedule (Google Sheets is a great free way to do that!) and keeping it with you! Although- be aware that some things aren’t announced until a couple of days before the con, so you may need to update it last minute. Also, The Book Bratz have an amazing packing guide in their Tips & Tricks for BookExpo and BookCon! Definitely check that out!

4. You can cosplay at BookCon

This is less of a tip and more of just a reminder- COSPLAY IS TOTALLY ACCEPTED AT BOOKCON AND YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY DO IT!! There aren’t many cosplayers at BookCon, and I have personally made it my mission to change that. Dress up as your favorite book character! You’d be surprised at how many people will love it!

5. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your plans

Okay I know I just told you to make a schedule and keep it with you, but I also want to mention that you don’t need to follow your schedule to the minute! If you find out theres an ARC drop you didn’t know about, or you’d rather hit a panel than stay out in the showfloor, then do it! Remember, this weekend is supposed to be fun. Do what you want!

And there you go, my guide for BookExpo and BookCon 2019! If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them the best I can. If you’ve been to BookCon or BookExpo, what advice do you have to someone new?

2 thoughts on “BookCon + BookExpo Survival Guide

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